Friday, 22 June 2007


I leave you this fine evening with an essay by Mary Eberstadt. Study it carefully. There will be a test Monday morning.


Here is a scene from today’s stage of the Tour of Switzerland, won by Russian Vladimir Gusev (who rides for the Discovery Channel team). American Chris Horner finished second. Many of the riders were frozen when they reached the finish line.

How to Moonwalk

Where was this woman when I needed her?


Here is Peggy Noonan’s latest column. Here is Peg Kaplan’s latest post.

Best of the Web Today

Here. (Still no mention of immigration.)


Please run for president, Newt.

I’m Gettin’ a Dell, Dude

I just ordered a Dell desktop computer (XPS 210). I know what you’re thinking: Didn’t this guy just buy a Dell notebook computer? Yes, I did. Let me explain. Before my display problem started 10 days ago, I already planned to buy a new desktop computer at the end of the summer. (Why the end of the summer? Because I wanted Microsoft to exterminate all the bugs in Vista.) My Dell Dimension 8200 is three years old. (See the addendum to this post for clarification.) A lot has changed in the computing world since I bought it. Why not upgrade, especially now that Windows has a new operating system? When my display grew faint the other day, it worried me. I’ve long wanted a notebook computer, so I figured I could both indulge my desire for a notebook and get peace of mind. If the desktop stopped working, I would have a backup computer. I bought a new monitor at the same time, thinking that might be the problem. It wasn’t.

The new desktop will be here by this time next week. It cost $2,043.77, counting sales tax. (Shipping was free.) I got all the bells and whistles, naturally. My existing desktop has an 80-gigabyte hard drive. The new one has a 320-gigabyte hard drive. Not that I need that much space, mind you, but I’ll take it. My first thought was to skip the monitor, since I just bought a 19-inch flat panel. But I decided to buy a new monitor anyway. I ordered a 20-inch UltraSharp widescreen flat panel monitor. About the only reason I can think of for having a widescreen monitor is that I can watch widescreen movies on it. Is there any other advantage to it? I played around with Vista the other day on my notebook computer. It’s not as different from XP as I thought it would be, which is good, since it won’t take so long to learn its features. Once I get the new desktop up and running, I’ll set up a wired network for my three computers. Obviously, I won’t be using more than one of them at a time, but it’ll be nice to know that if anything happens to the one I’m using, I’ll have another one ready to hand.

Addendum: I took a few minutes to reconstruct the history of this Dell Dimension 8200 computer. I ordered it on 1 August 2002 and received it a week later. I did not remove it from its box for almost a year, until 26 May 2003. I set it up and, the following day, got online with it. But as I explain here, I didn’t switch over to it as my main computer for another year. Thus, I’ve been using it as my main computer for just over three years. But the technology dates to August 2002, when I received it. So, by the time I get my new desktop next week, the existing Dell will be about five years out of date. It has served me well until the display problem 10 days ago. I don’t like having computer problems. If one thing goes, it’s a sign that other things will soon go.


My interest in abortion is primarily moral. That is to say, I’m interested in whether abortion is right or wrong. I’m also interested in the law of abortion and, to a lesser extent, in the politics of abortion. The author of this New York Times op-ed column claims that the Democrat Party’s extremism on the issue is costing it votes. She says the party brooks no dissent from its policy of abortion on demand, right up to the time of birth. Anyone who says that there should be legal limits on a woman’s right to choose (including a prohibition of partial-birth abortion, which is, strictly speaking, infanticide) is considered disloyal to the cause and to the party. As a matter of politics, this is stupid, just as it would be stupid for the Republican Party to excommunicate anyone who said that abortion should be allowed by law in cases of rape or incest, or where the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy. I think Republicans are more tolerant on this issue than Democrats. Is that your sense? If so, why would that be? Is it because the abortion industry is so powerful?

From Today’s New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Bush Vetoes Bill Removing Stem Cell Limits, Saying ‘All Human Life Is Sacred’ ” (news article, June 21):

President Bush’s stem cell research veto statement that “all human life is sacred” is in stark contrast to his actions as governor of Texas when he approved the death sentences of dozens of human beings. His statement that “destroying human life in the hopes of saving human life is not ethical” flies in the face of his invasion and occupation of Iraq, where thousands have been killed, ostensibly to save human lives threatened by Saddam Hussein.

Not to mention that his “love” for embryonic stem cells may be sentencing many of us, and our descendants, to death because he has effectively vetoed the potential to find cures for so many life-threatening illnesses.

Dorian de Wind
Austin, Tex., June 21, 2007

Note from KBJ: The letter writer fails to grasp the distinction, which I had thought obvious, between innocence and guilt. To say that all human life is sacred is not to say (or imply) that bad choices by adult humans may not be punished. That would be absurd. Rights—including the right to life—can be forfeited, and sometimes are. No embryo or fetus has forfeited its right to life. As for killing in war, the letter writer needs to bone up on Just War Theory. By the writer’s logic, no war could possibly be justified, for war involves killing. Does he or she believe that World War II was wrong?

Christoph Cardinal Schönborn on Science and Scientism

If we are going to bring more clarity to the modern debate by employing the means of natural philosophy, several steps are necessary.

We must first and foremost recover an understanding of what the modern scientific method is able to explain and what it is intrinsically unable to explain. We must recognize that by its method it cannot deal directly with top-down causation or with the natures or essences of things. It proceeds instead by means of mathematical and mechanical explanations that, in the old expression, “save the phenomena.” Neurobiological research, for example, can uncover with exquisite detail the physical substrate of mental processes. But neuroscience cannot prove that the mind is reducible to the brain, because its methods are unable directly to grapple with immaterial realities. (In fact, good neuroscience is highly suggestive of the irreducibility of mind to brain.) Scientism—by which I mean the philosophy (usually implicit and unrecognized) that modern science is the only way of gaining objective knowledge of reality—must be overcome.

Next, armed with a richer understanding of the nature and limits of modern science, we must reexamine the genuine science at work in Darwin’s theory and its developments, and begin to separate it from ideological and worldview-oriented elements that are foreign to science. Darwin must be disentangled from Darwinism; modern evolutionary theory must be freed from its ideological shackles.

To do this, people must be permitted to exercise criticism rooted in fact against the reductionist and ideological aspects of Darwinism. A truly liberal society would at least allow students to hear of the debate between anti-teleological theories and those scientists and philosophers who defend teleology in nature. And this, in turn, requires considerable freedom in the discussion of open questions in evolutionary theory. Commonly in the scientific community, every inquiry into the scientific weaknesses of the theory is blocked off at the outset, and there prevails a type of censorship similar to that for which the Church is frequently reproached.

(Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, “Reasonable Science, Reasonable Faith,” First Things [April 2007]: 21-6, at 23 [italics in original])

A Year Ago